Where to Mail Tax Returns, Tax Payments, and Extensions to the IRS

A Guide to Mailing If You Can't E-File Your Tax Return

Stack of Form 1040 papers

Larry Reynolds/Getty Images


It's usually best to go the extra mile when you're dealing with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), even if it feels like a nuisance or waste of time.

That's even more applicable if you're one of the few people to still file a paper or 'snail-mail' tax return rather than filing electronically. Always use a secure method (such as certified mail, return receipt requested) when you're sending returns and other documents to the IRS. That way you'll receive confirmation that the IRS has actually received your documents or payment.

Due to unprecedented closures and distancing measures triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, the IRS cannot process any paper tax returns until processing centers are able to re-open. The agency is strongly urging all taxpayers to file electronically.

The "Postmark Rule"

Much is made of the "postmark rule"—the one that provides that the IRS doesn't actually have to have your return in hand on the due date as long as you got it in the mail on time. It's true, although there are one or two other minor rules that go hand-in-hand with this one.

Of course, the envelope must be addressed correctly and bear sufficient postage. If so, the postmark date is the one you should go by, not the day the IRS actually receives the mail. If you use registered mail, the date of the registration is the postmark date, and if you use certified mail, the date stamped on the receipt is the postmark date.

Where to Mail Your Personal Tax Return 

The IRS has more addresses than you might imagine because its processing centers are located all around the country. Imagine the chaotic deluge that would result if every single taxpayer in the U.S. sent their return to a single location.

The address you'll use depends on what you're mailing and where you live. Go to the Where to File page on the IRS website if you're sending a personal tax return, an amended return, or if you're asking for an extension of time to file. The page includes a link for every state. Click on the state where you live and you'll land on a page showing the applicable addresses.

The IRS addresses do change periodically, so do not automatically send your 2019 tax return to the same place you've sent it in past months or years.

About Those Zip Codes

Don't be concerned if you notice that the zip codes don't match up with those of other addresses in each location. Always use the ones given. The IRS, more or less, has its own zip codes to help sort incoming mail.

The address for mailing a Form 1040 might be identical to the one you'd use to mail another form...except for the last three digits of the zip code. This is what differentiates incoming mail for the IRS.

If You're Sending Money

Another interesting wrinkle is that the mailing address usually changes depending on whether you're submitting a payment with your return.

For each state, you will be given an address for both scenarios. In almost all cases, you will mail returns with payments to the IRS, and mail returns without payments to the Department of the Treasury. Yes, that seems backward. Wouldn't the Treasury be the place to send your money? But tax rules aren't always logical or simple. 

Other Tax Forms

The addresses can also be different if you're filing something other than your personal tax return. For example, estimated payments and Form 1040-ES, amended returns, and IRS Form 4868 for tax extensions all have their own individual addresses so check the IRS page accordingly. Check this page on the IRS website for the appropriate mailing address for other types of tax forms.

Mailing a Business Tax Return 

You can find the proper mailing address for various business tax forms on the following pages of the IRS website:   

How to Mail Tax Returns If You Live Outside the U.S.

You can send your tax return or payment using the U.S. Postal Service if you're mailing from inside the U.S., but consider using a private delivery service otherwise, especially if you want proof that your tax return was sent on time. This will also help you to avoid any glitches with international mail.

The IRS will accept the "sent on" date on envelopes forwarded using FedEx or United Parcel Service (UPS), just as it does with U.S. mail, but you must use one of the approved classes of service for UPS, FedEx, or DHL Express.

  • FedEx: Use Priority Overnight Standard Overnight, 2 Day, International Priority, International First, First Overnight, International First Next Flight Out, or International Economy
  • UPS: Use Next Day Air, Next Day Air Saver, 2nd Day Air, 2nd Day Air A.M., Worldwide Express Plus, Worldwide Express, or Next Day Air Early AM
  • DHL Express: Use DHL Express, DHL Express Worldwide, DHL Express Envelope, DHL Import Express, or Import Express Worldwide

International taxpayers often mail their returns to the Austin, Texas service center, but the address where you should send your return might differ depending on your situation. You can check the appropriate addresses on the IRS website here. 

If you're mailing more than one tax return, consider placing each in its own envelope and then putting all envelopes into a larger envelope. Mail the larger envelope to the IRS by certified mail, return receipt requested. Then the IRS will immediately and easily be able to sort each of your tax documents separately. 

Hand Delivering Your Return 

Under normal circumstances, you could also hand deliver your return to a local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center if you really wanted to make sure the IRS gets it without a problem and there's one near where you live. You would ask the IRS agent for a stamped receipt. However, as of April 2020, all centers are temporarily closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Or Just Do It the Easy Way—File Electronically

E-filing your tax return is easier than ever these days and, in fact, the IRS really hopes you do. It doesn't want to be inundated with mountains of paperwork like in the old days.

Most tax preparation software will take care of e-filing for you with a simple click of your mouse. You can also make many tax payments online using IRS Direct Pay

You might also qualify for the Free File program if your income was less than $69,000 in tax year 2019. Free File is a partnership between the IRS and several of the leading tax software providers. If you qualify, simply choose a provider and it will prepare and e-file your tax return for you at no charge.

There are two more free programs for qualifying taxpayers. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs will help you prepare and e-file your return if you qualify.

Article Sources